A creative repurposing of Wikipedia is the perfect distraction for a snowy holiday break: check out The WikiGame.
Here’s a much abbreviated version of the scenario:
Imagine receiving a little wooden box that looks like it holds a treasure. The box cannot be opened. There is a button on top and an LCD display. You press the button and the display reads, "This is attempt 1 of 50. Distance: 55km. *Access Denied* Powering off...". The next time you press the button, in a different location: "Attempt 2 of 50" and a different "Distance" reading. And so on, until you’ve figured out that the box, equipped with a GPS inside, is leading you to one specific location where the box can be opened and the treasure inside it claimed.
His full writeup is here.
Steve Cable has created an nice infographic about the key design changes and innovation in game controller interfaces over time.
Getting this information together helped him make some neat observations about the design methodologies at Nintendo and Playstation.
Nintendo takes a lot of risks: some work (the Wiimote), some don't (the Powerglove). Playstation plays it safer, making small changes to the design over time.
Interesting stuff. (Also make sure to check the comments for some debate about how good the research behind the graphic is.)
Everything you thought you knew about monitor specs and controls is wrong. Seriously.
This week, I learned about Cramming, which sounds a lot like the Opt-out schemes we've covered in the past. The scam depends on people not paying attention to false charges hidden in their phone bill. Except with cramming, you don't even have agree to anything! Read on...
Ars makes a valid point: When have you ever read a negative preview for a game? Never. Everything developers show journalists is tightly controlled. Of course it looks good!
Smashing Magazine published its annual list of the year's trends in web design. It's worth a look to see what's new (and what's tired).
Probably the best thing I read this week, business-wise. In this blog post, Andy Rutledge discusses how to improve one's job estimates.
The secret? Don't rush into it. Don't quote the client your ideal figure; get to know them first. Then, adjust up or down based on your perception of the relationship.
At DLB, I think we do a good job with our ideal estimates and we certainly take clients' differences into account as part of that calculation -- provided we get a second job with them. But for first-time clients, I can see the wisdom of resisting the urge to commit to an estimate too soon...
From TED blog, check out this simplified credit card agreement:
A legible, good looking legal document? What a delightful dream (er, inspiration). Truly the stuff of TED.
Lately, I've been enjoying Bobulate (read as: the opposite of discombobulate), a recent addition to my blog rotation. Great layout and content.
Liz, the author, references a great piece on the importance of keeping un-busy. Much of creativity --even productivity-- depends upon not working from time-to-time. When you're busiest may be when you need free time the most. It's something to keep in mind as the semester ends (for some of us).
Last, something else that caught my eye last week, Wired has a story detailing one of the most interesting game designs I've heard of in a while.
Spy Party is a two player game where one person plays a spy in a party full of computer-controlled guests. The spy must perform several tasks while blending in with the AI. The other player is a sniper who observes the party and has only a single bullet with which to kill the spy.
Read the full description -- sounds intense.
Threadless is a popular t-shirt company who crowdsources its designs from user submissions. Chosen designs are awarded $2,500 with bonuses for reprints and a shot at a larger prize in a yearly "best-of" competition. But of course, the company might make a hundred times that in sales, which has led some to accuse it of basing its business on spec work.
Jake Nickell, CEO of Threadless, doesn't argue that he uses spec work, but he disagrees that what his company does is a bad thing. His argument is that Threadless submissions 1. Allow designers to keep their copyrights 2. Are an open process with no specifications (no brief) 3. Pay quite a bit. Most importantly, he says, people who submit to Threadless do it for enjoyment and not for the money.
I'm torn. On one hand, it doesn't answer the critics of spec work which argue for professional engagement-- that design is serious business which is not something to be farmed out on the cheap to amateurs. On the other, people who aren't designers like to make things and Threadless actually seems to give them a fair shake. I'm not sure what the breakdown is ethically. But if you're going to solicit spec work, I suppose there's a sea of people out there doing worse.
Coding Horror posted what just so happened to be an interesting follow-up to my post from last Monday later last week. Their post, How Not to Advertise on the Internet, is about the in-browser Civilization-style game Evony.
Jeff collected a series of advertisements for the game, and displayed them in chronological order. I've collected them from him and done the same below.
He's insistent that "these are real ads that were served on the internet. This is not a parody." Take a look:
These ads are a perfect example of someone succombing to Seth's shortcut to cash when times are tough, and Jeff's blog post is itself yet another case substantiating DLB's first axiom: Be good, because when you're not, the Internet will call you on it.
Developed by 2D Boy, a two-person team, World of Goo is a puzzle game with a simple mechanic—assembling minimal physics-simulated structures so your Goo-balls can exit the level, Lemmings-style. More than this, it has great production values (made with open source software!) and a lot of heart. If you’re in need of some fun, we encourage you to check out the demo.
When you’re ready to take the plunge, you can purchase it on Steam (which we also like), or from WiiWare. ((I may go the Wii route over Christmas because I like waggle controls and it seems to be a bit more reasonably priced than the PC version ($15 vs. $20)))